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Towards a resolution of some outstanding issues in transitive research: An empirical test on middle childhood.

Authors
  • Wright, Barlow C1
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, 50 Shakespeare Street, Nottingham, NG1 4FQ, UK. [email protected]
Type
Published Article
Journal
Learning & behavior
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2021
Volume
49
Issue
2
Pages
204–221
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/s13420-020-00440-7
PMID: 32789609
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Transitive Inference (deduce B > D from B > C and C > D) can help us to understand other areas of sociocognitive development. Across three experiments, learning, memory, and the validity of two transitive paradigms were investigated. In Experiment 1 (N = 121), 7-year-olds completed a three-term nontraining task or a five-term task requiring extensive-training. Performance was superior on the three-term task. Experiment 2 presented 5-10-year-olds with a new five-term task, increasing learning opportunities without lengthening training (N = 71). Inferences improved, suggesting children can learn five-term series rapidly. Regarding memory, the minor (CD) premise was the best predictor of BD-inferential performance in both task-types. However, tasks exhibited different profiles according to associations between the major (BC) premise and BD inference, correlations between the premises, and the role of age. Experiment 3 (N = 227) helped rule out the possible objection that the above findings simply stemmed from three-term tasks with real objects being easier to solve than computer-tasks. It also confirmed that, unlike for five-term task (Experiments 1 & 2), inferences on three-term tasks improve with age, whether the age range is wide (Experiment 3) or narrow (Experiment 2). I conclude that the tasks indexed different routes within a dual-process conception of transitive reasoning: The five-term tasks indexes Type 1 (associative) processing, and the three-term task indexes Type 2 (analytic) processing. As well as demonstrating that both tasks are perfectly valid, these findings open up opportunities to use transitive tasks for educability, to investigate the role of transitivity in other domains of reasoning, and potentially to benefit the lived experiences of persons with developmental issues.

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